Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oven Fries



Last Saturday I was planning the menu for this week and decided we should pull out the grill for some burgers. The weather forecast looked promising and didn't disappoint. When I asked Husband what he would like with the burgers, suggesting potato salad or bean, his response was, "Fries would be good."

I have never made deep fried french fries and deep fat frying isn't my favorite. I decided I should try some oven fries. I went to my trusty All Recipes and found the following:

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes (I used Russets-my favorite. I also left the peels on.)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper




1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with foil, and coat well with vegetable cooking spray. Scrub potatoes well and cut into 1/2 inch thick fries.
2. In a large mixing bowl, toss potatoes with oil, sugar, salt and red pepper. Spread on baking sheet in one layer.
3. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until potatoes are tender and browned. Serve immediately.

I did them in the toaster oven; cutting the temp down to 400 degrees. A couple minutes on broil helped brown them up. They were very good.

Bread Machine



Nothing quite like the smell of bread baking. I have had a bread machine for quite a few years. Like most gadgets it got used a ton right after we got it; then less over time.
For years I made a basic white bread recipe right out of the bread machine's instructions. It always turned out and easy to make. Recently I have been unable to find a small container of powdered milk; which is an ingredient in that recipe. It is also the only thing I used powdered milk for, so it made no sense to buy a huge container to use two tablespoons at a time in one recipe.

So I went in search of a new basic bread recipe for the bread machine. The following recipe got rave reviews on All Recipes and, important to me, no powdered milk.

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 tbsp. white sugar
1 (.25 ounce) package bread machine yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions:

Place the water, sugar and yeast in the pan of the bread machine. Let the yeast dissolve and foam for 10 minutes. Add the oil, flour and salt to the yeast. Select Basic or White Bread setting, and press Start.

It was light and delicious and make a very nice loaf straight out of the bread machine. I was very pleased.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Banana Nut French Toast



My favorite breakfast recipes are those that can be made the day before, placed in the refrigerator, and popped in the oven the next morning.
This recipe came together very easily. It is kind of French toast/caramel roll with the butter and brown sugar layer. The bananas definitely also add to the sweetness. We enjoyed it this morning with a couple strips of thick-cut bacon.
I made half the recipe in an 8x8 pan and it worked perfectly.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoon(s) butter or margarine
3/4 cup(s) packed brown sugar
2 large ripe bananas, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 (12-ounce) long loaf French or Italian bread, cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices
3 large eggs ( I used one egg and one egg white)
1 cup(s) milk
1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
1/4 cup(s) sliced almonds or coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions:

1. In microwave-safe small bowl, heat butter in microwave oven on High 1 minute or until melted. Stir sugar into butter until moistened. With fingertips, press sugar mixture onto bottom of 13-inch by 9-inch glass baking dish. (It's okay if mixture does not cover bottom.) Spread fresh or dried fruit over sugar mixture; top with bread slices, cut sides down.

2. In medium bowl, with whisk, beat eggs; whisk in milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Slowly pour milk mixture over bread; press bread down to absorb egg mixture. Sprinkle with nuts. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap from baking dish. Bake, uncovered, 45 to 50 minutes or until bread is golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Note: If you don't have bananas, substitute 3 to 4 very ripe pears or peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced; or 1 cup dried cherries, cranberries, or raisins.

Recipe found on Delish.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Cajun Jambalaya



This was a first attempt at making Jambalaya. Husband likes it and has ordered it when we eat out, but I had never tried making it.
I wanted to try a recipe at least somewhat authentic. Emeril Lagasse seemed a chef who would know his way around jambalaya. This recipe appealed to me because you could control the spice with the the amount of hot sauce and cayenne pepper. I like some spice, but Husband likes more. I wanted to be able to eat it without blowing smoke out my ears.
This recipe will definitely become part of the menu rotation.

The recipe can be found here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Peanut butter-Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip cookies



I don't make cookies often and when I do they always involve chocolate. Chocolate chips are the essence of a cookie, in my opinion.
Oatmeal has always gone nicely with the chocolate and when I saw a recipe that included peanut butter I had to try it. They are wonderful and bake up really nicely.

Peanut butter-Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

3. On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour until just combined. Stir in the oats, and then the chocolate chips.

4. Use a large cookie scoop (3 tablespoons) and drop dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. Cool completely on the baking sheet and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chicken and Gnocchi soup



I enjoyed making gnocchi a few months ago and wanted to try a different recipe. Soups are one of my favorite meals to make and we especially love creamy soups. This recipe is supposed to be similar to a soup served at The Olive Garden restaurant.

Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi soup

1 cup chicken breasts, cooked and diced (you can use a rotisserie chicken)
4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. flour
1 quart half and half
1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1/2 cup celery, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup carrots, finely shredded
1 cup onion, finely diced
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. extra virgin oil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. parsley
Freshly grated parmesan cheese – optional
1 pound potato gnocchi

Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter, when the onion becomes translucent, add the flour, and make a roux, let the butter and flour mixture cook for about a minute before adding 1 quart of half and half.

Cook gnocchi according to package directions.

Into the roux add in the carrots, celery, and chicken. Once the mixture becomes thick add the chicken broth. Once the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi, spinach, and seasonings.

Comments: I made my own potato gnocchi rather than buying it. It was extremely filling, but delicious. I had been wanting to try soup in bread bowls from Panera Bread and figured I would give it a shot. It made for a heavy meal with the bread and filling soup, but it was certainly excellent.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sweet and Sour Meatballs



I love meatballs and was looking for another recipe to feature them. This sauce is delicious; sweet and flavorful and very easy to make.


Sweet and Sour Meatballs


1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1 onion, chopped
1 cup dry bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. soy sauce

1. In a large bowl, combine beef, egg, onion, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Roll into meatballs about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in size.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the meatballs until browned on all sides.

3. In a separate medium bowl, mix together the water, vinegar, ketchup, cornstarch, sugar and soy sauce. Pour over the meatballs, and allow sauce to thicken. Continue to heat until the sauce just starts to bubble.

Serve over rice